Hear in Edmonton - Edmonton, Alberta

Image of someone going to ER to treat sudden hearing loss.

More often than we would like to admit, in our modern day society, we neglect health care.

Consider the parents who regularly put the needs of their children before of their own, ensuring their kids get proactive and reactive care when required, but neglecting to do the same for themselves. How about professionals who won’t fit in a doctor’s appointment because they are to busy with meetings. Then there are those who are scared of what they might hear so they steer clear of the doctor’s office preferring to stay ignorant.

But what would you do if you required more than something to deal with a sinus infection or your annual flu vaccine? If you woke up one day and had complete hearing loss in one or both ears what would you do then?

If your answer is to just ignore it until your hearing returns, chances are it never will. Hearing specialists caution that if you don’t get sudden temporary hearing loss taken care of right away, peculiarly if it’s at the nerve level, it may become permanent.

Sudden Hearing Loss, What is it?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about half the people who experience sudden hearing loss–the rapid loss of 30 decibels or more of hearing ability–will regain some or all of their hearing naturally.

Sudden hearing loss is more likely to happen than is commonly recognized. As a matter of fact for every 5,000 people, between one and six are estimated to experience sudden hearing loss. With that being said, the NIDCD warns that the number of undiagnosed cases would cause that figure to go up if you were to include them. This means that this year around 400,000 Americans or more could develop sudden hearing loss.

Sudden hearing loss can actually occur over several hours or days so the term is somewhat of a misconception.

Sudden Hearing Loss; What is The Cause?

Doctors are usually unable to find the cause as it happens over hours or even days. The unfortunate truth is that determining a cause is possible in only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with sudden loss of hearing. Of those that hearing specialists can determine, the most common causes are autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, infections, exposure to certain drugs, blood circulation disorders and inner ear disorders.

As stated, getting treatment as soon as possible after the onset of sudden hearing loss gives you the best chance of recovering at least some of your normal hearing.

How do You Deal With Sudden Hearing Loss?

In many cases, especially those where the cause is not known, the normal course of treatment involves corticosteroids. Minimizing the swelling and reducing inflammation is the goal as with all steroid use.

The recommended method of treatment has evolved since researchers have carried out more studies on sudden loss of hearing and medicine has modernized. Pill form is how these steroids were classically prescribed, but this was a challenge for people who were not able to take oral steroids and those who were worried about the side effects linked to the medication.

A 2011 clinical trial established by the NIDCD discovered that an injection of steroids through the eardrum was just as reliable as oral steroids, even getting around the drawbacks of oral alternatives by permitting the medicine to flow right into the ear. Ear, nose and throat specialist around the country routinely give these injections in the office.

Another reason why seeking immediate medical attention is so crucial is that your doctor may order a panel of tests that could diagnose the underlying problem behind your sudden hearing loss or another threatening condition. These tests can even test whether you can keep your balance as well as performing blood-work and several imaging methods.

We May be Getting Close to New Treatment For Sudden Hearing Loss

Researchers continue to work on the issue but honestly, there is a lack of solid facts about the cause of sudden hearing loss. New advancements with infusing drugs into tiny microspheres would provide a new technique of administering the steroids in what could be a safer way.

While many factors of sudden loss of hearing remain a mystery, researchers and medical professionals have shown over and over that early treatment increases your chances of getting back the hearing you’ve lost. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, either sudden or gradual, you should contact a hearing expert right away.

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